Travelers: Virtual Alicia and The Mister
Budget: ALL-OUT! ($10,000+)
Where did you go? We wanted to go to Europe for our honeymoon. Since we had to pay for it ourselves, we started planning in 2010. We booked everything in 2012 after our wedding, and we paid it all off in 2014. Our trip included two cruises (one of the Mediterranean and one of Baltic capital cities), a land tour of the UK (excluding Wales), and two four-day stays (one in Rome and the other in Dublin).
We visited 16 countries in all. Our Mediterranean cruise departed from Venice, Italy and went to Athens and Piraeus in Greece, Kuşadası and Istanbul in Turkey, Mykonos in Greece, Naples, Civitavecchia, Florence/Pisa, and Livorno in Italy, Provence and Toulon in France, and Barcelona, Spain. We went during a heat wave, and it was very humid. We chose this cruise over our first choice because it went to more ports of interest to us. Naples and Marseilles weren’t on our first choice, so we altered plans after making our deposit.
The Baltic Capitals we visited were Copenhagen, Warnemünde and Berlin, Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki, and Stockholm. We caught a cold front in the Baltics and got hailed on in Finland! It was crazy! We chose this cruise for the places we would visit and to see the ballet in Russia.
The ultimate purpose of this trip was to experience a lot of places where we’d like to visit again and spend more time. We accomplished that, for sure.
What did you do? We did a lot of walking in the Mediterranean and Rome. We did some walking city tours, a hike of Mount Vesuvius, and cruised around the shops in Kuşadası. We did a lot of sleeping in the Baltics. We didn’t plan as many excursions, so we took our time exploring places of interest.
In Dublin, we did some walking tours, but we also did a city tour by bus. It was a hop on, hop off affair. It was a really fun way of experiencing the city.
Our luggage was lost during our connection from Copenhagen to Dublin via Heathrow. We weren’t alone though. Heathrow lost almost our entire flight’s luggage. When we left the airport, the line to report lost luggage was 55 people deep! At three days into our stay, we broke down and bought new clothes until ours arrived. Fortunately, our bags arrived the next day.
The UK land tour was nice. Both of us were dreading the 7:00 and 8:00 am departures, but those weren’t so bad. We had to get up early to put the luggage out for collection, but we could nap on the bus without feeling rushed or stigmatized.
The bus always did at least three stops a day for potty breaks, so we got to eat breakfast and pick up snacks every day.
Our favorite place was Edinburgh…
The city was open relatively late, so we could get up around 10 and not feel like we wasted half the day. The Mister got to go into the BEST guitar shop in all of the cities we went to. Believe it or not, Edinburgh also had the best pizza of all the cities we went to.
Rome was our least favorite place. Everywhere you go charges for water, so be prepared to drop $6US on a bottle. There is no free water with meals. This was super-sad to us since that’s mostly all we drink.
What would you have done differently? We went over our budget a bit because the pound and euro were both high at the time. We had also decided to do some extra tours, so that added to our trip budget. We had planned to spend about $5,000 (US) on food, gifts, taxis, etc, but wound up spending $7,000. Most of this was spent on water in Italy. (Haha! Just kidding.)
We bought two CamelBaks for the trip since we knew we were going to do a lot of hiking and walking. My advice is to bring more water. In a humid city during a heat wave, you don’t want to run out. Fill up water bottles before leaving your room. In hindsight, we probably went through a gallon a day when we were walking. It’s better to have it than to not.
Finally, don’t be afraid to take lots and lots of pictures. We have over 9,000 between us. I made a photo album of the whole trip when we got back. When I save up, I want to make an album for each part of the trip. Still, with all those pictures, we feel like we didn’t get enough.
What’s your best travel advice for other offbeat honeymooners? Do not go through Heathrow as a connection point. Ever. Haha! We had so many bad moments with that airport. I think we connected there four times, and we had a problem every time.
Places that seem dangerous are very safe if you’re traveling with a tour group. If you don’t plan to book tours through a cruise or land tour company, I highly recommend City Wonders Tours. We used them for Rome, and we would use them to explore other cities in the future. I’ve also heard amazing things about Viator.
Hop on, hop off buses like City Sightseeing are also amazing. Just keep in mind that unless you’ve purchased admission at the time of booking, you will have to pay to go into some places. Bring money.